Disney Can’t Use Stars Brand In Brazil After Lionsgate’s Starz Wins Court Round, Citing Customer Confusion, Trademark

The stars are not aligning Brazil. A judge there has ruled that Disney cannot use its Stars+ brand for now because it is too easily confused with Starz, the service owned by Lionsgate that brought the original complaint.

The court Friday granted a Starz request on appeal for a preliminary injunction — or temporary restraining order (TRO) – saying Disney can’t use the name Stars when the service rolls out in late August. An earlier court had denied the injunction.

“The plaintiff [Starz] proved to have priority of use and registration in Brazil over the wordmark ‘STARZPLAY,’ including for identifying entertainment services, which grants it the right to protect its reputation and material integrity,” wrote Judge Jorge Tosta in his decision.

A Disney rep wasn’t immediately available to comment.

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Disney — following the acquisition of 20th Century Fox assets — is renaming the Fox Channel, available through cable, internet and streaming platforms, to the Star Channel and Star Plus, the judge said, and “will offer entertainment services identical to those already provided by the plaintiff, especially in relation to streaming service.”

He said suffixes like ‘PLAY, ‘PLUS,’ CHANNEL’ ‘PREMIUM,’ ‘LIFE,’ ‘KIDS&FAMILY’ and ‘COMEDY’ change nothing. “Obviously, a consumer, when referring to the streaming services offered by the parties, will not do so by saying that he watched a movie through “STARZPLAY” or “STARPLUS”, but simply through “STAR.”

He said there’s a trademark issue too. “There is the possibility of the consumer confusing or linking one trademark to another, as if it belonged to the same business or economic group.”

With the TRO, Disney would incur yet unspecified daily fines if it uses the Stars name before the case is settled.

Deadline also understand that Lionsgate/Starz has filed similar suits in Argentina and Mexico. A judge in Argentina denied a TRO request so the case is simply moving forward on its merits. Ditto in Mexico, which has no real judicial mechanism for a TRO.

Lionsgate did not file suits in other international territories including Europe where Disney’s STAR+ service will be bundled onto the Disney+ platform, creating less confusion in the minds of consumers. In Latin America, however, it would launch as a separate standalone streaming service.

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